Customer Profile: Six of the best

It’s a well-known fact that the pub industry has had to diversify in recent years, and one family-run company is positively thriving with its food-led venues.

The Full English Pub Company runs six successful, independent pubs across the South East. Owner Matthew Fletcher took on his first pub, the Three Horseshoes in Winkwell, 13 years ago, and has seen the business go from strength to strength, bucking the trend in a difficult market. James Brooks started working for the company 10 years ago, when they took over the Star Inn in Woodstock which was headed by Matthew’s son Jamie Fletcher with the remit of shaking up the food side of the business. He says: “I’m from Woodstock so I knew what the town wanted in terms of the food offering – good quality, homemade

British food, things like proper pies made with our own pastry and game, when it’s in season. Hearty, honest pub grub.” A third pub followed, each time with one of Matthew Fletcher’s children taking on the management of it, and James overseeing the food side as catering director. Four years ago, James also became landlord of the company’s fifth pub acquisition, the George and Dragon, moving in with his wife Vicky and three young daughters, Lola, India and Ella. With lots of experience of being a chef prior to this role, James brought a high level of understanding to the business and was determined his team would be treated fairly. “We pay our chefs by the hour so that they don’t get exploited as some do when they are salaried,” he says, “and a lot of the chefs do four-day week contracts to ensure they have proper rest as it’s a challenging and high pressure environment. We retain a lot of good chefs as a result.”

The pubs are known for their roast dinners and pie nights, which always include a vegan option. On top of the core menu, they also offer a completely separate gluten free menu and serve a range of gluten free beers. Country Range Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce accompanies the posh fish and chips – one of many Country Range ingredients used by the company. “We only ever use a bought-in product on our menu if our chefs can’t make it any better themselves. I would urge anyone to blind taste it against the leading brands. You can’t tell the difference – apart from it’s cheaper in price!” This month sees the launch of the group’s sixth venue – The Metropolitan in Little Chalfont (so-called because of its proximity to the Metropolitan line into London). “It will have a different style of menu,” says James, “with lots of Mediterranean-inspired dishes and healthy options, hand-stretched pizzas and a big focus on brunch. “Food is the most important aspect in all of our pubs – with tight margins on alcohol, it’s vital to get your food offering right and Country Range certainly go a long way to help us with this.”

Bestselling Dishes :

  1. Crispy Duck Fries (using Country Range 7×7 Crispy Fries) 
  2. Steak, Ale & Mushroom Pie
  3. Classic Handmade Beef Burger 
  4. ‘Posh’ Fish & Chips (Tempura Battered Monkfish Tails, King Prawn Skewers, French Fries and Petit Poit) 
  5. Barbecue Pork Ribs (Marinated in Country Range Barbecue Sauce, slow-cooked in Cola overnight)